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I owe a £5,000 debt and I wished to make payment in the pettiest but legal way possible.

I would like to pay entirely in cash, I'm aware there is a previous case history in doing such a thing and I am aware there are rules regulating how many coins to value are legal tender.

I have prepared sorted piles of coins based on my basic understanding of what is legal tender:

  • 20 * 1p = 20p
  • 10 * 2p = 20p
  • 92 * 5p = £4.60
  • 50 * 10p = £5
  • 50 * 20p = £10
  • 20 * 50p = £10
  • 4970 * £1 = £4970

I believe at this point this would be an acceptable form of payment.

I mix all these coins into one massive sack.

I then fill the sack with an assortment of confetti.

Just as I prepare to take the sack to make payment, my child who I have been teaching the value of money tips in a till full of fake coins. I don't have time so I delivery the sack as payment as is.

Have I paid in a way in which the creditor cannot refuse payment? At what point are they justified in their refusal? Am I responsible for the sorting of coins? Am I liable for the cost of time involved in sorting?

Although I am looking for an answer in a British context I'm happy to hear how this may differ in other countries.

Clarification: This question is entirely hypothetical.

  • In the US, coins are legal tender, but private businesses are not required to accept them. To who do you owe the debt? A private business or a governmental unit? – Ron Beyer Apr 5 at 17:39
  • @RonBeyer I am not from the UK, but in the US, it is mandatory that you be allowed to pay a debt in legal US tender. – Putvi Apr 5 at 17:48
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    I imagine having the confetti and fake coins is enough for them to refuse, claiming you are not offering money. In any case, remember that you likely also want a receipt of some kind stating your debt is satisfied in full. They could make you wait there the whole time as they sort the coins and if you left early, claim the amount was insufficient. – pboss3010 Apr 5 at 18:28
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    Another possible reacion, the clerk could just look at the bag and say "there are only 4561.56 pounds here". And when you claim that there are 5000 pounds, the clerk points you to an empty table and say "stack them there to prove that my count is wrong". – SJuan76 Apr 5 at 18:43
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As long as you pay them, they are paid.

  • I'm not sure that this is true. At least in the US it is not, private businesses can decline payment in certain forms (such as pennies, $100 bills, etc). You see it quite often here (a sign saying "$100 bills not accepted"), and many places of business have done away with cash entirely. – Ron Beyer Apr 5 at 17:42
  • Opps, I meant to put my comment here. Legal tender must be accepted in the US and UK. @RonBeyer – Putvi Apr 5 at 17:50
  • My question is aimed more at the way in which the payment is delivered, the liability for sorting of the coins and the rights of the creditor to refuse me. If it's unclear I'm happy to take edit suggestions to clear things up. – Mark Berry Apr 5 at 18:03
  • I understand, and it is still true that as long as you pay them you payed off the debt even if you give them trouble. They are probably going to tell you to never come back though, so just as a friend, make sure its not a place you want to go again. lol – Putvi Apr 5 at 18:09
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    @Putvi yup, definitely missing the point. In the UK the 1p penny coin is legal tender. Simultaneusly, in the UK 1000 1 penny coins in a single transaction are not legal tender. In the UK "legal tender" includes quantity limits. – Moo Apr 6 at 21:59

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